PLATES XXVI and XXVII
GLOVES OF OLIVER CROMWELL
A HIGHLY interesting and well-authenticated pair of gloves which belonged to the Protector. Their sturdy and workaday appearance at once suggests the character of their former owner. They are made of stout darkish grey leather, with plain stitching of the linger seams and on the back of the hands; the gauntlets are wide and have a heavy thick fringe of twisted brown silk about 5 inches long, the total length of the gloves being, from the tip of the middle linger to the end of the fringe, 17 inches; the breadth across the knuckles is 4Ľ inches. They are in excellent preservation, owing probably to the fact that till quite within what may be called recent times they have been carefully treasured by some member of Cromwell’s family. They came into the possession of the writer in 1877, having been purchased in September of that year from Mr. Charles Martin, of Fordham, Cambridgeshire, who died at the age of ninety-two. Mr. Martin acquired them as a gift from an old lady, a native (like himself) of Wicken, a village near Fordham, whose mother had been at one time housekeeper either at the house of the Cromwells or with William Russell, of Fordham Abbey, near Wicken, the son-in-law of Henry Cromwell. It may be mentioned that Henry Cromwell, a son of Oliver, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Russell, of Chippenham (not far from Wicken), and occupied a farm and house, known as Spinney Abbey, in the parish of Wicken, where he died March 23rd, 1674, and was buried, together with his wife and several other members of his family, within the altar rails of Wicken Church. Frances, a daughter of Oliver Cromwell, married Sir John Russell, a resident in the district, and died in 1720.
Henry Cromwell’s only surviving daughter, Elizabeth, married William Russell, of Fordham Abbey, mentioned above, and died in 1711; and their daughter, Mary, married Robert D ‘Aye (died 1765), who with his wife is buried near the north porch of the church at Soham, a village within a couple of miles of Wicken.
From local accounts these gloves would appear to have been in the possession of William Russell and his wife Elizabeth (Cromwell), certainly in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Some members of the Cromwell family resided in the neighbourhood as late as 1787.
Inside the left-hand gauntlet is attached a worn and faded piece of paper, on which, in antique writing, now somewhat obliterated, is the following inscription
“These gloves did . . . . ng to
Oliver Cromwell and was the
gift of a gentleman of
Cromwell was a native of
Huntingdon, that family having
resided there many ages."
The date, which evidently refers to the time of the writing on the label, brings the memorandum to within forty-six years of the death of Oliver, and from the wording of the memorandum it would appear the gloves were a presentation from an admirer of the Protector. It is a matter of history that several generations of the Cromwell family married, lived, died, and were buried in the Wicken district.
In the collection of the Author.